back to article Google patents (2004) home page

Google has patented its home page, a digital rectangle famous for including almost nothing. On Tuesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Mountain View a patent for "the ornamental design for a graphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal." That graphical user interface is, yes, the …


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  1. Ned Ludd


    You can patent the arrangement of a few simple html objects? Good example of why the patent system need overhauling (or keelhauling).

  2. David Heffernan


    28 my arse, I can count 40 on my page!

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hey, it does set them apart...

    Sadly, none of the other search engines are clueful enough that they'll ever be able to come close to challenging it. has always been an exercise in Where! The! Fuck! Is! Your! Search! Control! Today!?

  4. Steve Evans


    So they haven't patented the "bork bork" language version?

  5. Mark Wills


    Trademark, sure. Patent? Er, no.

    That's a fail that is.

  6. Charles Manning

    @Mark Willis, Ned Ludd

    It's a "design patent", not a "utility patent". See

    In US law the design patent is exactly the right thing to use for this.

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Google Pwnd ..... Playing the System, Milking the Cash Cow for All that IT's Worth

    The cynic in me recognises the exercise as more for lawyers to bill for services than anything remotely worthwhile, thus I also award it a Registered Fail.

    And that would mean that Google is a Cuckold to the Status Quo rather than ITs Wild Child and Breath of Fresh Clean Mountain AIR, which is a Shame whenever the Establishment, as we know it, is Powerless to Defend itself against Incisive Search and SMART Product Placement ....... and Virtual Phormations in Space.

    And that is very Gary McKinnon too, methinks. Mighty Blighty Zone 42 meets and greets Spooky Sam's Area 51 for Ab Fab Control of the Great Game? A House of the Rising Sun AIMMORPG coming Soon to a Screen near You ........ and Offering Virtual Control of GOD in LOVE ...... Global Operating Devices in Live Operational Virtual Environments.

    Men are from Mars and Women from Venus ...... and both are Divine when Sublimely Played and Immaculately Groomed/Programmed/Phormed .....

    Now that is Good News to Host and Laud, El Reg. And you are always QuITe Naturally cordially invited to Delve and Rummage about in its IPStores for Source Leads and Prosthetic Feeds.

    When Uncle Sam is Terminally Ill ...... What fills the Black Hole and Generates with AI, HyperRadioProActive NEUKlearer Power with the Quantum Energy of Control? A Post Modern Colossus, MoJoHawking ITERatively?

  8. Francis Vaughan

    Design patent != Utility patent

    Read the article. The patent is a design patent. This is nothing like a patent of an invention (utility patent). It works quite differently. You can patent the look of your product. Nothing to do with the functionality or utility of the product, or even if the product has a utility patented.

    Well known examples include:

    Kodak's yellow film boxes. The yellow colour is patented. You cannot sell film in a box that has the same yellow colour. You can of course paint your house/car in the same colour. Which is one way a design patent is different to a utility patent.

    Cocacola bottle. The waisted glass bottle was patented. You could not sell soft drink in a similar shaped bottle.

    Trademarks are similar but different, and something can be both trademarked and have a design patent.

  9. david 63

    For the price of a stamp to the US

    and a few minutes work we could bring the patent office to its knees by filing design patents for all our home pages...

  10. Whitter


    As pointed out, it's now redundant. But the case does illustrate yet another issue with patents in general - the ridiculous amount of time it takes to get one. By the time the paperwork has been done, 5 years for this utterly trivial case, the tech/idea is out-of-date and no longer worth the hefty fees.

    Why is it that copyright can protect an artistic creation - whether good bad or indifferent - is granted immediately and for free, but good engineering design? Sod that.

  11. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Up

    @Charles & Francis

    Thanks, didn't know that ;-)

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Pathological? I don't think so.

    You may scoff at Google's pathology, but many of us think the web would be much improved if *everyone* took Google's minimalist view of design. What I *need* from a search page is a box to type in an expression. Everything else is a waste of bandwidth. Google gives me that, but no-one else seems to understand.

    Of course, Google then spoil it by throwing billions of ads at me, but I think of that as a tax on stupid people (i.e., anyone who thinks web advertising works) to finance freebies for me, so I can live with it.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Just shows...

    ... how shit US patent law is.

    Gawd Bluss Amurica

  14. Anonymous Coward

    28 words

    Of course they couldn't break the rule for putting a 'Privacy' link, but put up a ugly ad for Chrome up on the home page for IE users, and that's A-OK.

  15. FreeTard
    Thumb Down

    Total joke

    Changing my search engine to something else. Alta vista still around?

    Software patents are poppycock.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Double Dip

    How everyone whines about it being an oh so important "design patent"! In other words, we have another user interface patent in the patent landfill, and everyone can presumably double-dip and sue transgressors over the trademarks they also have for more or less the same thing.

    Patents: the last bastion for those people having a tantrum about not being able to enforce copyright on their minimal endeavours.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Borked

    Whitter wrote:

    "As pointed out, it's now redundant. But the case does illustrate yet another issue with patents in general - the ridiculous amount of time it takes to get one."

    The issue with patents here is the ridiculous nature of the patent: "Here's a simple search page!" You used to get an even simpler one with the use of a single HTML tag in a page (ISINDEX), as I recall.

    "By the time the paperwork has been done, 5 years for this utterly trivial case, the tech/idea is out-of-date and no longer worth the hefty fees."

    If anyone is claiming about delays over "this utterly trivial case", maybe the alarm bells (of guilt, perhaps) should be ringing in their head.

    "Why is it that copyright can protect an artistic creation - whether good bad or indifferent - is granted immediately and for free, but good engineering design? Sod that."

    Copyright only protects "art", does it? Whereas patents protect the manly pursuit of "engineering". Such nonsense! Copyright protects software systems adequately enough, contrary to those who appear eager to leech off the software-producing industries by insisting that everyone patent everything.

    Patents: tools of extortion and a tax on innovators everywhere.

  18. DJV Silver badge


    Does that mean that is fecked?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    A 'design patent'

    This is the US's confusing term for a registered design - it's not a patent in the normal sense at all.

    Sorry to deflate the freetards just as they are getting puffed up

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Re: 5 years for case to grant

    There are two points here -

    Firstly, there is provisional protection that is retroactively ratified when the design is approved, so the delay, whilst annoying, is not really a problem.

    Secondly, this filing is only partly to do with the design itself, and, I am sure, also partly to do with being seen to protect its name for the purposes of retaining a distinctive trademark (you cannot hold a trademark if a name loses the distinctive character of origin - a classic example is the word 'escalator', which used to be a trademark, and 'hoover' is also having problems - hence Google's visible attempts to protect its name. The actual data of issue, for this purpose, is irrelevant.

  21. Highlander

    Design patent my arse

    Why the hell 'patent' this? What the hell is wrong with copyrights and trademarks?

    A patent is/was intended to cover physical inventions. the expansion of patents into areas traditionally covered by trademark or copyright has been a boon to attorney fees and corporate bully-boy tactics, but hasn't helped anyone.

    I can see the point of patenting new ideas that have an implementation in software, but copyright covers the actual code. The only thing that should be patented is the algorithm itself. And that patent needs to be a fairly short lived one since most ideas in computing are based on the work of others down the years anyway.

    But design patents? Oh come on. Did someone at the US patent office owe their attorney a favor and so they came up with this idea as a quid pro quo?

    I see that someone has pointed out that a design patent isn't really a patent, ut more of a registered design. Alright, but here's a question. What separates a 'registered design' from a trademark or copyright? Google could have trademarked the design, that would have protected it. They could have copyrighted it as well. Patents are governed by a different set of laws and expectations. Design patent or no, a patent is a patent and in the minds of most the word patent carries the same meaning even if it's prefixed by design. This is an unnecessary distinction in the US copyright/trademark and patent system.

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